38 Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 271 LONDON, 27 July 1940, 5. 10 p.m.

IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Your telegram 384 of 24th July. [1]

As regards the first paragraph, His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia will appreciate that it is impossible to guarantee passage through the Red Sea with absolute certainty, but the scale of attack has been materially reduced by the destruction of 60% of the Italian Submarines in that area and by the reduction of fuel stocks caused by our continual bombing of Italian Air Bases. Two convoys have already passed through the Red Sea without loss, and before the passage of U.S.4 [2] His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom themselves intend to pass about 27,000 further troops through the Red Sea, in addition to the regular supply convoys. The security of the route will therefore have been fully tested before the passage of U.S.4 leaving Australia on 23rd August.

A further telegram will be sent as soon as possible regarding the second and third paragraphs. A full appreciation on Far Eastern situation will be communicated shortly. The Commonwealth Government's view[s] as to equipment in relation to the despatch of subsequent formations overseas are noted and are under consideration.

1 Document 33 2 The prefix 'U.S.' was used to denote convoys carrying troops from Australia to the Middle East.

[AA:A3195, 1940, 1.5958]